In which we play Munchkin on Tabletop with Steve Jackson

If you've been reading my blog for a few years, you may remember when I played Munchkin with my kids in 2008:

I'm going to speak in geek to people who have played Munchkin: Neither of the kids would help me, and I kept getting the Truly Obnoxious Curse, so I was having a hard time gaining levels. As a result, I was stuck at level 3 forever while they were sitting around level 7. I decided that my goal in the game would be to mess with them as much as possible, and forget trying to gain levels on my own.

Nolan was to my right. He kicked in a door and didn't find a monster, so he looked for trouble, playing a level 3 something from his hand. "Does anyone want to mess with me?" He asked, avoiding looking in my direction.

"It's funny you should ask," I said. "That's an illusion. You're actually fighting a level 18 Squidzilla." I played the appropriate cards.

"Oh, okay." Nolan pulled a card from his hand. "It's now enraged, so it gets an additional treasure." He pulled another card from his hand. "And with this Polymorph Potion, it turns into a parrot and flies away." He paused dramatically. "And I take five treasures."

"OHHH!" Ryan and Michael said.

"Man, that's a really great move," I said. "Too bad I'm playing Annihilation on it."

He was forced to discard the potion, and face the Enraged Squidzilla on his own.

"OHHH!" Ryan and Michael said."

"Okay, then." Nolan said. "I guess I'm running away."

You may also remember the 3872 Intelligent Humongous Orcs Incident of 2006, which caused much laughter and rejoicing.

Munchkin is a polarizing game. People who love it are crazy about it, and people who hate it want to kill it with fire. I fall into the middle; it can be a really fun game if the players get into the spirit of the puns and the backstabbing and don't succumb to the crabs-in-a-barrel mentality that can keep a player at level 9 an hour after the game stopped being fun.

On the most recent Tabletop, Sandeep Parikh, Felicia Day, and the game's creator Steve Jackson played Munchkin with me, and I think we illustrated exactly why this game can be so much fun:


If you can't see the embedded player above, or you want to watch us play in glorious HIGH DEFINITION, here's some linky magic that will give you what you're looking for.  

Munchkin is one of those games that brings out the Rules Lawyers and self-proclaimed experts who spend a lot of time pointing out every time we did something that wasn't optimal, or when we screwed up with the rules, so this is a very good time for me to point something out: The goal of TableTop is to show how much fun it is to play games. It isn't a tutorial on how to win them. We know that we make mistakes (we shot 20 episodes in 10 days on a tiny budget with 60 different players) and we're okay with that.

61 thoughts on “In which we play Munchkin on Tabletop with Steve Jackson”

  1. The best part of this is knowing that there have been 20 episodes shot! A new TableTop is the highlight of the week for my son and I and it is good to know that they will go on for a while.

  2. And this is why Munchkin is forever immortalized as a game of punitive and punny play. In both dickish-but-fun play, and rules mongering.
    Also, Steve Jackson, YO.

  3. This was the best ep of Tabletop so far, and we immediately went to Amazon and bought Munchkin. We look forward to watching the show every 2 weeks, and I’m very excited to hear that there are 14 more episodes to come!

  4. I think this was my favorite episode of Table Top to date! I also added Munchkin to my Amazon wish list(father’s day and B-Day right around the corner) ;).
    I am going to use it to try and get my wife more into RPGs… a geek can dream as you well know.
    Looking forward to the next Table Top!!

  5. I own the card game version of Munchkin (inspired to buy because of your blog). I was glad to see it on Tabletop because my wife doesn’t quite grok it.
    Tabletop version is the board game. Am I right in guessing that the gameplay is basically the same and the board only serves as a visual representation of what level you’re on?

  6. It’s highly addictive. Don’t forget the expansion packs and the other versions and the collector booster packs and the ::bursts into coins::

  7. Cool – can’t wait to watch this when I get home…
    You know, Wil – for about 4 years I’ve been trying low-pressure ways to gauge my fiancee’s interest in playing some games with me, but nothing has really worked (except Scrabble – she murders me at Scrabble). When Tabletop started, I started watching them with her and we enjoy them immensely. And then – it happened. Last week, she came home with a freshly-purchased copy of Tsuro.
    So I doff my hat in thanks and offer you a hearty “Well played, sir! Well played indeed…

  8. Wow, rules lawyers actually complained about you guys not playing right? When the guy who made the game was right there playing it? That takes a lot of balls. No brains whatsoever and a real douchebag attitude sure, but amazing balls. Personally, this was my favorite episode of Tabletop so far because it’s the one game (besides Zombie Dice) which I knew backwards and forwards and play regularly.

  9. Ah, the joys of Munchkin. It has been way too long since I played and now I’m in the middle of move. Once the card game box is open, it’s on. Maybe you should think about a Mythbusters style revisit, and ramp up your Munchkin with some blender action.
    Also in the interest of hockey camaraderie, GO KINGS!!

  10. OK – this is my favorite episode of Table Top so far and I haven’t even watched it yet. On my way to watch it now. I *love* this show!

  11. Great Episode! Got to see 2/3 of the show at PHX Comicon, and a little birdie mentioned a certain Ms Day pulled a kobayashi maru before this episode. Did you get that on tape for a future gag reel?

  12. Loving the show, as is our local game/book/music store. Just bought Munchkin & Zombie Dice. My boy is getting a great lesson in gaming and we are having so much fun. Thanks!

  13. After watching this episode, I only have one thing to say to Steve Jackson, which is “Shut up and take my money!” Love tabletop and will hope for/against a second season so I can enjoy the show and spend my money on all the games you guys play.

  14. Great show and great series. Not sure when you taped, but did you get a chance to talk to Steve about the crowd-fund success for Ogre? I squeed at the opportunity to help and I was surprised that you had no mention of it on your Teh Interwebs. And then Car Wars…

  15. This not a job, this is like a geek’s dream come true. Steve Jackson himself! Do you know how many geeks would *pay* to be able to be able to play his games with him?
    You are one of the luckiest geeks on the face of this big blue marble. Having a job were you get to have as much fun as you seems to have reminds me of Moe Syzlak talking to Homer when Homer got a straight flush without even trying… “I’m choking on my own rage here.”
    Don’t get me wrong, you deserve it. It is just that I am VERY jealous. Keep up the great shows, and I am sure I will be even more envious of your future guests. :)

  16. Wil,
    I’m sorry but I was one of those people going “But you can do this, etc” everytime.
    At least I didn’t scream it outloud and wake my wife.
    MIB 0217

  17. Love Tabletop. Have enjoyed every episode. Heard of most these games, but am not as familiar as I’d like. Having a really good time learning about the games and you all are doing a great job of showing how fun they can be. Keep up the great work. Look forward to seeing the rest of them. Kudos.

  18. At the end of the school year, I had my literary magazine staff members over for dinner and games. This is a group of highly creative, extremely intelligent teenagers who are fluent in Sarcasm.
    I should have known better, but I pulled out Munchkin and my 11 yo son and I introduced them to the game. It took them two rounds to get it.
    Then they kicked. my. ass. No mercy. Just a lot of hysterical laughter and pun appreciation.
    That night was epic fun and now we’re planning more game nights with them over the summer. I toyed with the idea of introducing them to Illuminati…but I’m sort of afraid to let that group even think about secret societies controlling the world.

  19. First of all: Hey cool my TypePad credentials still work! :)
    Second: I’m really looking forward to seeing this one. My girls starting playing Munchkin last year when they were eight and love it to death. They also seem to have taken the gaming spirit to heart and developed their own set of house rules that ensure they have maximum fun. :)

  20. Let Steve jackson and your other sponsors know that because of this episode, even though I own Munchkins and a couple of the expansions, I just bought the Munchkins Deluxe version to get the gameboard. It will make playing this with my kids even easier. I’ll be buying “Ticket to Ride” at PAX I think. See you there, Wil.

  21. Wil, In all seriousness TableTop is the best thing I have put on my TV in many years. I love Geek & Sundry as well as the Nerdist channel. Youtube is doing content creation right.
    For my own curiosity, how could one go about telling you all to “take my money” so that you can have a slightly higher budget and perhaps many more episodes can be made?

  22. We spent one Thanksgiving playing Munchkin with friends. We were playing until 2 AM when I finally decided to help my friend win the game (I wanted to go home!).
    Oh, and chicks want to look hot in their Munchkin armor. I love it when I get the leather armor and the kneepads of allure. We have most of the expansion sets for Munchkin so the games last a long time when we play!

  23. It must be so frustrating for you to get to make a TV show in which you get to have fun playing games with your friends and then some douche tells you that you weren’t having fun in the right way.

  24. If anyone tells you that you were playing Munchkin wrong, just point to the man on the left. You can’t argue with the man whose name is on the game.
    When I told my husband about this ep, he had to watch it. We own 5 of the decks, and he was given MunchkinQuest for his birthday. Now we just need to find time and friends to play with.

  25. So amazing to see Steve Jackson play his own game. I love Illuminati and you reminded that I need to dig my copy out. Thank you for this show of awesome gaming!

  26. My sons and I look forward to Tabletop every week (in fact my 13 year old counts down the days) and you are responsible for several hundred dollars being spent on games since Tabletop started. Next on the list of games needed is now Munchkin as you guys made it look like so much fun to play. Thanks Wil. :)

  27. Hi Wil! You might not remember the taping of StarTalk on the road at the Neptune Theater in Seattle, back on March 31st, but I was the 12 year-old girl who asked Neil Tyson about the “Maya End of the woooorld prediction”. Paul Tompkins said that I had revived something, and Eugene Mirman gave me some water because I had a cough. I just wanted to say that I LOVE watching Tabletop. I thought it was every OTHER week, but I’m not sure. How often is it?

  28. My son (he turned 14 today!) and I have a must-see date with the computer whenever a new Tabletop is posted. We’ve gone from playing a “big brand” game every few months to playing Tabletop games (and other indie games) every day…even if we only have time for a round of Zombie Dice.
    The BIG thing is that this past Saturday night we gathered the family (grammie, sister, brother in law) together for a game night for son’s birthday. My sister and I, who barely speak, were laughing and joking together over several games. For this, Wil, I thank you.
    For us, and I suspect for a lot of fans, it’s *not* about getting every rule correct, it’s about spending time together with various people, bonding and sharing something in common while having geeky fun.

  29. I love Munchkin. And, I love TableTop, even if most of the games so far are ones I know. I’ve been having a conversation with someone on Amazon of all places who, because of TableTop is discovering these games and more, I’ve been giving recommendations. I just love the idea of spreading the love and getting more people to buy and play these games so the people that made them can make more. :)

  30. Tabletop and the Flog are regular watches for the kids and I. I bought Tsuro and Munchkin is up next. I’m member of a local game club where we play everything that suits our fancy. Mainly table-top wargaming but we have a big stack of board- and cardgames. I take my kids there too.
    Geek and Sundry is one of the Youtube channels that turned me from TV watching to the more personal content*. The app on the Xbox helped because we can watch it on the big screen (medium-sized actually but 43″ is big enough for me).
    My rediscovery of you started with the Gnomodex talk on IT Conversation. From there I saw you get back in the saddle. I’m still proud to be the first Burrito feeder and when I told my son about getting a personal e-mail from you telling me that and asking for permission to name me, and being on the roll call in episode 18, my son wanted to see the mail and here the episode. Thanks, Wil.
    * YouTube is what I watch these days (plus my BBT DVDs). Geek and Sundry, some Twit.TV, Beast of War (gaming of all kinds), videos of live performances of the bands my friend play in, Minecraft vidoes, you name it. There is so much good stuff ranging from quality to amateur level, from regular scheduled to irregular, it is so much better than normal TV channels. So very much better.

  31. I like Munchkin, I bought the first box when it first came out all those years ago. The thing that I don’t like are the expansions. They just seem to drag out interminably what should be a quick game. But when you get down to it, that’s my playing preference.

  32. I also bought munchkin after reading that post in 2008. Both my girls love it ( wife does too now ). As for the ‘rules’ It was my impression that those weren’t really rules but ‘suggestions ‘ 😉 I only spotted a couple of minor things that you guys did that we didn’t do and thought ‘ ooooh, that’s a good idea. Besides, as was mentioned before, The f’in CREATOR OF THE GAME was playing. How much more official does it have to be ?

  33. …my family loves TableTop AND my 11-year-old used birthday money to purchase Munchkin yesterday, directly as a result of this episode. (Oh yes, feel free to wave this in front of the people who want to know if TableTop is working for advertisers, LOL.)

  34. I was initially opposed to bleeping Tabletop, but after hearing from so many people like you who watch it with your kids, I'm really glad we decided to handle it the way we did.

  35. Thanks to Lizanne and the other folks who said Tabletop sent them to pick up Munchkin (and all the other games featured). I heard from our warehouse staff and they were SWAMPED yesterday!

  36. It’s a two-way-street. I get so much out of what your doing. The way you go about things make people, without even realizing it, look for non-mainstream, broaden their horizons. I mean it.
    I already had it lurking in me but people like you awoke the support-independent-artists-and-local-heroes persona that was hiding in me. I show my kids stuff they otherwise wouldn’t have come across.

  37. I first played Munchkin something like nine or ten years ago. And I LOVED it. I got to play with a big group of friends that almost never get the chance to all meet up at once. The guy who taught us talked about everything in the game–but maaaaaay have glossed over the aspect of backstabbing to serve as a ‘harsh lesson’ later on down the road. It was an effective lesson, but it backfired a little–my best friend and I waited until he was level 9 and about to win, and then completely annihilated him. It’s been so long I don’t even remember everything that we did–but it must have been harsh because to this day he refuses to play Munchkin if both of us are present. He wasn’t MAD or anything… he said later he was actually kind of impressed. And a little horrified.

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